By Patrick Lanman
Vevay Newspapers

“How do you eat an elephant?”

My wife is famous for asking that question to students in her first-grade classroom for more than 30 years.

The answer, as all of her past and current students will tell you, is: “One bite at a time.”

To my HSPA brethren, now’s my chance to convince all of us to take a bite.

Throughout my life I have always been amazed at how a group of people, coming together and contributing small amounts, can create one really big thing.

As we look at big goals, sometimes they seem as though they can’t be conquered. Alone many can’t be, but when everyone comes together, great things happen.

That’s why, as president of the Hoosier State Press Association Foundation, I would like to challenge each of you, from publishers on down the line, to participate in a new and exciting fund drive.

“2014K” is a program that comes from the belief that people working together can accomplish much.

As a foundation, we have been blessed through the years with participation at the corporate level of our industry as well as many private benefactors who have given generously to help us further the causes of First Amendment freedom and others that support Indiana through newspapers.

Now, through 2014K, we seek to widen our individual donor base so those important efforts can continue.

How does it work?

I am establishing a goal of raising $14,000 in 2014 through individual donations.

In the spirit of everyone sacrificing a little bit in order to accomplish something really big, I am asking that each of you consider making a $20 donation to the HSPA Foundation.

Your donation is tax deductible, and in the grand scheme of things you probably won’t miss that $20 very much. But when your donation comes together with the donations of others, great things begin to happen.

If the foundation receives 700 donations of $20 each, it reaches the goal.

Want to give more? You’re welcome to do that, but the core of this drive lies in the people who are going to work each day and helping create a news source that people in their communities have come to trust. Your newspaper is the voice of your community. People look forward to reading it, and they trust what’s written in it. They trust that the information is fair and accurate.

They trust you.

As a foundation, we want to work to provide you with ongoing training and the proper tools to maintain and grow that trust.

For many of you, the existence of the HSPA Foundation may be a surprise. You may have never known that HSPA has a charitable arm, much less know what it does to support newspapers.

Well here’s a sampling:

The HSPA Foundation is involved in many different programs. It sponsors and creates workshops, seminars, webinars and other opportunities designed to help you do your jobs better and easier. It also coordinates programming that gives you the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds in media.

The Foundation provides funding for the Eugene S. Pulliam Internship Program, which each summer places 10 college students in newsrooms around the state, getting hands-on training in how our industry operates and how it is changing. In addition, high school journalists receive college scholarships.

The Foundation continues to fight for everyone’s First Amendment rights. It provides funds to join court actions defending newspapers threatened by lawsuits and other legal action.

This year we’ve begun a new program that will place advertising interns in state newspapers, not only giving those students experience but helping your newspaper create new revenue streams.

At its core, the HSPA Foundation and the HSPA Boards of Directors fight each day to ensure that our industry continues. We aren’t going away, and we know that your paycheck depends on our diligence.

This foundation is more than a charity to me, it’s personal. I don’t know about you, but I wince when I hear people say newspapers are dead and dying. I can assure you that we are alive and vibrant.

Over the past two years, billionaire Warren Buffett has purchased 28 newspapers at a combined cost of $344 million. Earlier this year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post for $250 million.

Do you think these guys are buying newspapers because they’re dying?

Here’s what Warren Buffet said in Forbes magazine this past summer:

“Newspapers continue to reign supreme in the delivery of local news. If you want to know what’s going on in your town – whether the news is about the mayor or taxes or high school football – there is no substitute for a local newspaper that is doing its job.

“A reader’s eyes may glaze over after they take in a couple of paragraphs about Canadian tariffs or political developments in Pakistan; a story about the reader himself or his neighbors will be read to the end. Wherever there is a pervasive sense of community, a paper that serves the special informational needs of that community will remain indispensable to a significant portion of its residents.”

It’s time that we collectively stand up and fight misconceptions about our industry and tell a different story – a story of an industry that may be evolving but certainly isn’t dying.

The HSPA Foundation is telling that story, but we need your help to do that.

It may seem like a lot of programs and a lot of training and a really big story. It may seem like a story too big for you to tell. That’s why we need to tell it together.

One story at a time.

One bite at a time.

How to help

Want to participate in

2014K? Mail your check, payable to the HSPA Foundation, with “2014K” in the memo line, to HSPA Foundation, 41 E. Washington St., Suite 301, Indianapolis, IN 46204.

Include your name, mailing address, and the newspaper you work for and what you do there. Save some stamps and encourage co-workers to mail all their checks in together.

Watch future editions of The Indiana Publisher for updates on how the program is coming. For more information on the Foundation, visit www.HSPAfoundation.org.

Patrick Lanman, editor and general manager for Vevay Newspapers and president of the HSPA Foundation Board of Directors, is a guest writer for the Foundation Front column this month. Contact him at (812) 427-2311.

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